Ljubljana related

11 Feb 2020, 15:03 PM

STA, 10 February 2020 - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has arrested five police officers operating at the north-eastern Gruškovje and Zavrč border crossings with Croatia. It is believed they accepted bribes for stamping the passports of third-country Schengen zone residents to allow them to prolong their stay beyond the permitted 90-day period.

The General Police Administration said Saturday's final sting, which involved more than 50 police officers, was the culmination of a months-long investigation.

The operation included covert surveillance and house searches, including in Austria, and led to the discovery of an international ring that took money for illegally enabling third-country citizens to reside in the Schengen Area.

It turned out that the ring also included five members of the police force who accepted bribes to provide passport stamping for individuals who in fact failed to leave the Schengen zone after the maximum permitted 90-day period before trying to re-enter three months later.

Police representatives told the press that the passports were owned by citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia who were likely engaged in undeclared work in the EU.

The employment contracts of the officers involved have been terminated, and Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar, who helped coordinate the investigation, has introduced special oversight to check mechanisms for monitoring the work of border police.

It is not yet clear how much the corrupt officers earned with the help of the scheme, but 90,000 euro in cash was discovered during the house searches along with 19 passports ready for stamping.

The five are currently in detention and will be brought before an investigating magistrate.

The General Police Administration said that similar incidents had also occurred in other countries located on the edges of the Schengen Area.

It is expected that the risk of such abuse will finally be eliminated in 2022 when a new system is meant to completely automate the monitoring of entries and exits.

Peter Skerbiš of the General Police Administration's border police sector told the press that the safety of the Schengen Area was not in peril. "The abuse was in fact discovered by border police at other border crossings," he pointed out.

09 Feb 2020, 15:57 PM

STA, 7 February 2020 - The Slovenian police recorded a total of 16,099 illegal crossings of the border last year, almost 74% more than in 2018, with the highest number of migrants coming from Pakistan, Algeria and Afghanistan.

Citizens of Pakistan were involved in a total of 4,101 illegal crossings, followed by citizens of Algeria (1,892) and Afghanistan (1,733), show data from the police, the Ministry of the Interior and the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants.

August was the busiest month for police officers in this respect, as 2,392 illegal crossings of the border were recorded that month, followed by October (2,268) and September (1,987).

The number of applications for international protection was also up last year to 3,821, which is 33% more than in 2018.

Only 85 persons were granted international protection, down from 102 in 2018, while procedures were suspended in 3,273 cases. The vast majority of suspensions are the result of applicants leaving Slovenia of their own accord.

The largest number of foreigners returned to Slovenia by foreign authorities came from Italy (255), while Slovenia returned the biggest number of foreigners to Croatia (11,026 or almost three times more than in 2018).

As of 6 February, a total of 298 applicants for international protection reside in Slovenia, almost half of them in the asylum centre in south-western Ljubljana.

The number of persons who have been granted international protection stands at 725, with three-quarters of these persons accommodated in private homes.

21 Dec 2019, 09:32 AM

STA, 20 December 2019 - Police processed more than 15,200 illegal crossings of the border by the end of November this year, as much as some 70% increase compared to the same period in 2018. A total of 3,640 migrants have asked for international protection.

Citizens from Pakistan, Algeria and Afghanistan were processed by police officers most often.

This year's situation shows a steeper increase year-on-year. August saw the greatest surge of illegal crossings of the border per month since the 2016 mass migrations, with the situation getting more manageable in autumn when the temperatures started dropping.

The police has recorded an increase in the number of asylums requests as well - in 2018, 2,875 asked for international protection, while in the first eleven months of 2019, 3,640 did the same. Most of those procedures have been completed, with 67 persons granted asylum.

Considerably more illegal migrants were handed over to the Croatian authorities this year as well - some 10,640 compared to 4,590 in 2018. Most of them were from Pakistan.

02 Dec 2019, 12:15 PM

STA, 1 December 2019 - The Slovenian police recorded 14,066 illegal crossings of the border in the first ten months of the year, which is almost 72% more than in the same period of 2018. The largest groups of migrants came from Pakistan, Algeria and Afghanistan.

August was the month with the highest number of illegal crossings of the border since the 2016 mass migrations, whereupon the number of monthly crossings started dropping as the weather started to deteriorate.

The number of people who expressed the wish to stay in Slovenia was also up. Some 4,441 expressed the intention to seek international protection on contact with the police, up from 3,952 in the year before.

But the statistics show most people treat Slovenia as a transit country, with many who submit formal requests leaving the country before their cases are heard.

Of the over 4,400 who expressed their intention to seek asylum, only 3,350 eventually did so and the vast majority of cases were suspended because people had left, presumably to other EU countries.

The actual number of asylum seekers staying in Slovenia is thus low relative to the overall number of migrants, show figures by the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants.

On 28 November there were 335 persons in asylum centres awaiting the processing of their requests for international protection and 697 residing in Slovenia who have already been granted international protection

All figures below are from official police and Interior Ministry data.

Illegal crossings in January-October, by citizenship

               2018         2019
--------------------------------
Pakistan      2,531        3,777
Algeria         832        1,752
Afghanistan     956        1,519
Morocco         343        1,112
Bangladesh      172        1,090
Syria           620          754
Iraq            466          694
Turkey          221          618
Iran            684          604
Croatia         274          301
Other         1,087        1,845
--------------------------------
TOTAL          8186       14,066

Illegal crossings and requests for asylum in 2018,
first ten months of 2019

Month             Crossings      Asylum requests
               2018    2019        2018     2019
-------------------------------------------------
January         248     319         172      205
February        210     326         223      216
March           210   1,075         129      356
April           644   1,389         274      334
May           1,286   1,306         365      404
June          1,043   1,266         267      287
July          1,119   1,793         287      387
August        1,152   2,379         381      388
September       999   1,988         256      356
October       1,275   2,225         201      417
November        722                 170
December        358                 150
-------------------------------------------------
Total Jan-Oct 8,186  14,066

Persons returned to Slovenian police and persons returned
to foreign authorities by Slovenian police, Jan-Oct

              Returned to          Returned to
            Slovenian police   foreign authorities
Country        2018    2019        2018     2019
------------------------------------------------
Italy           343     235          59       68
Austria          29      77          16       13
Croatia           8      25       3,906    9,653
Hungary          18       5           5        2
Airport         150     211          30       25
------------------------------------------------
Total           548     553       4,016    9,761

Number of requests for asylum and their status in 2018,
first ten months of 2019

Status
                                   2018     2019
------------------------------------------------
Requests                          2,875    3,350
Requests for repeat procedure        40       25
Repeat procedure                     27       47
Solved cases                      2,886    3,234
Asylum granted                      102       62
Asylum denied                       135      102
Procedure suspended               2,372    2,792
Dismissed requests                  277      278
Permanent move                       40        0
Relocation                           21        0
03 Oct 2019, 14:05 PM

STA, 2 October 2019 - Even though the agreement on joint patrols policing the Slovenian-Italian border ended on Monday, police cooperation between the two countries is still in place in certain areas, in particular in the Koper Police Department district, police told the STA on Wednesday.

However, joint police patrols are no longer patrolling the Nova Gorica Police Department district.

Joint patrols were carried out between 1 July and 30 September. During this time, 46 joint patrols were deployed in the Koper Police area - 36 in Slovenia and 10 in Italy. Altogether, 276 hours were used for patrolling and a total of twelve Slovenian police officers were part of the joint patrols, said the police.

In the first nine months of this year the Koper Police apprehended about 3,920 illegal migrants (some 1,920 during the joint patrolling period), an increase over the same period last year when they caught some 3,270 foreigners who had crossed the border illegally (about 1,780 during the July-September period last year).

Despite the agreement coming to an end, Italy and Slovenia have carried on with policing the border together due to the pressing illegal migration situation and based on the agreement's terms and arrangement with the Italian authorities.

Both countries are also interested in extending their cooperation to other forms of joint effort enabled by the agreement, including joint analyses and forming a joint investigative task force.

According to the Koper police, joint patrols are effective and successful at their job. The police officers involved in them are motivated for this kind of work and are directly exchanging know-how, experience and information regarding illegal migrations.

On the other hand, the Nova Gorica police have decided not to proceed with joint patrolling, having agreed with the Italian authorities to end such police cooperation already on 9 August.

During the joint patrolling period, six joint patrols were carried out in the Nova Gorica area - half of them in Slovenia.

Until 29 September, the Nova Gorica police apprehended 190 illegal migrants (some 40 during the joint patrolling period), which is more than in the same period last year - 61 persons who had illegally crossed the Slovenian-Croatian border (some 30 during the July-August period last year).

17 Sep 2019, 18:01 PM

Numerous outlets are carrying a report from the Associated Press about armed individuals – carrying knives – now patrolling Slovenia’s border with Croatia. These are part of Andrej Šiško’s Štajerska varda (“Home Guard”), the anti-migrant movement led by the former football hooligan, presidential candidate and recent prison inmate. Šiško is quoted as saying his goal is “to train people to defend their country and help the military and police at a time of massive migrations from the African and Asian states, mostly Muslims.”

One member of the group is Blaž Židar, a “47-year-old former Slovenian army soldier, dressed in camouflage trousers with a long knife hanging from his belt” who  goes on daily patrols near his village of Radovica. The story quotes him as saying “I would prefer to enjoy my retirement peacefully, but security reasons are preventing this.” He goes on to say that his six children often join him on patrol, along with his wife, “because they have to learn how to protect their nation from intruders.”

Related: 1 in 8 Slovenians is an immigrant

The reporter, Dušan Stojanović, goes on to interview Miha Kovač, a Slovenian political analyst and professor at the University of Ljubljana, who describes such anti-migrant groups as made up of “guys with big beer bellies who don’t have much of an education, who didn’t have much of a career, who don’t know what to do with themselves in the contemporary world. They find their meaning in this kind of movement and this kind of hatred toward migrants.”

While Kovač doesn’t see the movement as an immediate danger, he says the problem would get worse if Slovenia had significant numbers of immigrants, from 20-50,000.

Meanwhile, the story claims the authorities are happy to turn a blind eye to the patrols, as long as they stay within the law. As France Bozicnik, the head of criminal police at a police station near the border, states: “People call us on the phone every day and give us information about suspicious vehicles and suspicious persons, and we sincerely thank them for this information.”

You can see the full story here, while all our stories on Andrej Šiško are here

 

08 Aug 2019, 12:45 PM

STA, 7 August 2019 - The government decided on Wednesday to extend the deployment of auxiliary police to help the regular force cope with a spike in illegal migration on the Schengen border with Croatia and with other duties.

In line with today's decision, auxiliary police will be deployed until the end of the year to help patrol the border and stand in for absent regular police officers.

Under the valid legislation, auxiliary police may be called in for up to 30 days in a calendar year.

Only about 70% of police force jobs are filled on average, while illegal migration is on the rise, the government said.

It also noted a deterioration in road safety and the engagement of larger numbers of police officers in providing the security at a number of upcoming high-risk events such as a meeting of the NATO Military Committee, and the VIP Forum 2019 to be held in Ljubljana in September.

Security challenges will be stepped up later on in the year, so there is reason to expect an increased scope of duties in various areas of police work.

This is why most of the auxiliary police have already been engaged to help secure the border or stand in for regular police officers providing the security at high-risk events.

Some 460 auxiliary police have already been called in this year and they have already completed about a third of the 30 day-quota on average.

All our stories on the borders are here

16 Jul 2019, 11:25 AM

STA, 15 July 2019 - The parliamentary Home Policy Committee discussed joint Slovenian-Italian border police patrols at an emergency session on Monday with the opposition arguing that these were misguided and could give an excuse to Italy to carry out its threat and put up a border fence.

Jernej Vrtovec, the deputy for opposition New Slovenia (NSi), which called the session, labelled joint border patrols as a mistake with long-term consequences.

He argued that in this way Slovenia would give Italy an excuse to consider other, stiffer measures to control migration, including erecting a fence on the most exposed sections of the border.

"Italy is a sovereign country, it can build, but this is not in the European spirit. Slovenia must send a clear message to Italy that such surveillance would seriously impact on people's lives on the border," he said.

Concerns about Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's threat to erect a fence and reinstate police checks on the border with Slovenia were also raised by the mayors of border communities of Nova Gorica and Renče-Vogrsko, Klemen Miklavič and Tarik Žigon.

However, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar rushed to assure everyone present that joint patrols were not reinstating border controls, saying that most citizens would not even notice them.

"Joint patrols send out a signal that borders are being efficiently secured and make migration routes towards the west less attractive," said the minister.

Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, who is in Brussels today, labelled the claims of the opposition MPs as misleading and said that this measure was a step to prevent Italy from introducing border checks.

Slovenia cooperates with police forces of all neighbouring countries and continues to conduct joint border patrols with Croatia and Hungary. Italy maintains such patrols with its other neighbours as well.

The initiative for the joint border patrols was made by Italy in late April and four joint patrols became operational on 1 July.

They will exercise surveillance in the shared security space during night-time for three months in a bid to prevent cross-border crime and illegal migration.

Like the minister, Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar underscored that the joint patrols were not conducting border checks.

Most coalition deputies argued that joint patrols were an effective way to provide security with Tina Heferle from the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) saying they could prevent erection of border obstacles.

Gregor Perič, an MP for the Modern Centre Party (SMC), maintained that Salvini could find another reason to put up a border fence, rather than a potential failure of joint patrols.

However, Maša Kociper from the coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) does not favour joint patrols.

Vrtovec and Branko Grims from the opposition Democratic Party (SDS) argued that joint patrols made no sense because it was not in Slovenia's interest to stop migrants who want to enter Italy.

Moreover, Vrtovec said that joint patrols were Slovenia's admission that it was not coping with the situation on its south border.

The NSi believes that measures should be taken to step up protection of the Schengen border, which would render joint patrols superfluous, an idea also supported by the SDS and National Party (SNS).

Minister Poklukar argued that Slovenia already exercised effective control of the Schengen border, something that he said was confirmed by Frontex and Europol in their assessments, as well as by the fact that Italy returned a mere 169 migrants to Slovenia this year.

The border with Croatia is being secured by various police units, backed up by troops, drones and helicopters. More fence has been commissioned as well and extra budget funds made available.

The committee failed to endorse the NSi's proposals to call on the government to take all measure needed to effectively secure the border with Croatia, and to take steps to restrict Slovenia's asylum law.

12 Jul 2019, 12:28 PM

STA, 11 July 219 - The Public Administration Ministry has laid the groundwork for the erection of another 40 kilometres of border fence. It would not reveal, however, where the fence will be placed.

The new fence will be supplied and set up by the Serbian company Legi-SGS for EUR 4.8 million.

The fence alone will cost EUR 4.56 million, and the pillars, fittings and installation another EUR 273,000, shows the result of an open call released on Wednesday.

The ministry looked for the best bidder with two calls for applications, and the Belgrade-based Legi-SGS was picked as the best bidder in both.

The ministry would not reveal where the border fence will be placed. It says this is confidential.

It did say, however, that additional fence would be erected in places where this is required to prevent illegal migration and protect locals and their assets. In some places, the new fence is needed because the old one is damaged.

The specific decisions on when, where and how much fence is needed are made based on the proposal of the Slovenian police, the ministry said.

08 Jul 2019, 17:24 PM

STA, 8 July 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said on Monday that security on Slovenia's southern border would be beefed up, including with new equipment such as drones, after meeting with Ilirska Bistrica officials and civil society representatives to discuss the situation on the border with Croatia.

Šarec, visiting the south-western town along with Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar and Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar, said that he understood locals' feelings of unease about the situation.

Ilirska Bistrica Mayor Emil Rojc pointed out that the number of illegal border crossings had doubled since Poklukar's first visit to the area.

"We've never said there was no migration issue," said the prime minister, adding that the need for strengthening border controls had been acknowledged.

Šarec announced the expected arrival of additional soldiers to the area as well as the deployment of new police equipment, including border patrol drones, and expansion of the border fence.

However, Šarec also said that Slovenia's border patrol had been effective in meeting set expectations and that "we cannot settle for various forms of fear-mongering, which are sometimes politically-motivated as well".

Šarec will also visit the Kostel and Črnomlje municipalities later today.

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